Deer licenses on sale; lottery applications due Sept. 6

Deer hunting licenses are now available for purchase. Hunters who want an either-sex deer or special hunt permit for the coming season must apply by Thursday, Sept. 6, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Hunters should carefully review the list of lottery areas, because many of these permit areas have not been lottery areas for a significant period of time. Currently, 58 of the state’s 127 permit areas are lottery areas.

Many of these areas, focused in the northwest, north central and a portion of northeast Minnesota, were designated lottery areas in response to hunter desire to see higher deer populations.

People can purchase a deer license and apply for the lottery or a special hunt at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-665-4236 or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Lottery winners will be notified in October.

Hunters can apply for lottery deer areas and special hunts using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses. Although a hunter can be selected for both licenses, successful applicants still can only take one deer. In the case of special hunts, a person may draw both a firearm and muzzleloader permit, in which case they must adhere to the bag limits established by each special hunt.

Lottery deer areas in 2012 are permit areas 103, 108, 110, 118, 119, 122, 169, 171, 172, 183, 184, 197, 199, 234, 235, 237, 238, 250, 251, 252, 253, 258, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298 and 299.

DNR encourages hunters to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before applying. Current and up-to-date information is available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer andwww.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.

Walk-In Access adds 6,000 acres for hunting this fall 

Hunters heading to southwestern Minnesota will have access to an additional 6,000 acres of hunting land this fall, as the Walk-In Access (WIA) program grows to more than 15,000 acres, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Sign crews are out right now marking boundaries on the new Walk-In land,” according to Marybeth Block, WIA coordinator for the DNR. “Hunters will have access to 158 sites across 21 counties, beginning Sept. 1.”

WIA provides public access to private land and pays landowners by the acre to allow hunting access. This is the second year of a three-year WIA pilot program.
“We continue to get feedback that Walk-In is working for both hunters and landowners,” Block said. “We look forward to the success of our first year carrying into 2012.”

She anticipates that maps of all sites will be available for viewing at www.mndnr.gov/walkin by mid-August. Printed atlases of WIA sites will be distributed across the 21-county pilot area or will be available by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

Block said the majority of WIA acres are enrolled for multiple years and are also enrolled in a federal or state conservation program designed to maintain cover on the acres. Many of these conservation programs have been opened to emergency haying and grazing in response to severe drought conditions across the country. Landowners under WIA contracts will be allowed to remove a portion of the forage from those conservation lands, but their WIA payment will be reduced 25 percent for the year. The WIA website will list the sites that have been approved for emergency haying or grazing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded the first two years of the program. The Minnesota Legislature has approved additional funding for WIA. A $5 surcharge on non-resident hunting licenses has been directed to the program. Resident hunters have the opportunity to donate $1, $3 or $5 to the program when purchasing a small game or deer license.

“Hunter support is key to this program,” Block said. “Using the land, respecting the land and donating to the Walk-In program will help build future access for hunters.”

WIA land is open to hunting from Sept. 1 to May 31 each year.

WIA a partnership among the DNR, soil and water conservation districts, Board of Water and Soil Resources and USDA.

State acquires Snake River property with assistance from The Nature Conservancy

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that it recently acquired 405 acres of land owned by Robert and Alice Aanestad in Kanabec County in east-central Minnesota. The property is nestled between the Snake River and the 7,706 acre Snake River State Forest.

“This picturesque land will enable the state to protect an additional 1.8 miles of Snake River shoreline and enhance the Snake River State Forest, a working forest that provides for timber production, wildlife habitat and recreational activities,” said Dave Schuller, DNR Forestry Division lands program coordinator.

The property is strategically located in a large bend in the river, with state forest to the east and the Snake River bordering the rest of the property. It creates a natural boundary for the state forest, reducing the need to determine property lines, thereby reducing management costs.

Wildlife benefitting from state protection and management of this property include white-tailed deer, black bears, gray and red fox, beavers and muskrats. The property will protect shoreline habitat for walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass and catfish found in the Snake River, one of the few rivers in Minnesota that is also home to lake sturgeon. This significantly increases shoreline protection provided by the state forest from 12 miles to 14 miles. The additional 405 acres will provide expanded opportunities for hunting, fishing, paddling along undeveloped shoreline, hiking, bird watching and many other outdoor recreation activities.

The Aanestads acquired the property in the early 1970s. They received lots of interest from buyers who wanted to subdivide the property and build houses.

“We always had it in mind to see the land protected so everybody could have access to it,” said Robert Aanestad. “It’s a very beautiful property and it borders the Snake River. The DNR will accomplish our goal of keeping it in its natural state.”

This land acquisition was made possible through the use of Outdoor Heritage Funds provided by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, approved by Minnesota voters in 2008, and Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Match Funds made available through a grant match of donations provided by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a nonprofit organization that helps protect lands and waters throughout the United States and in more than 30 countries.

The Nature Conservancy is thrilled to help DNR conserve a key piece of the Snake River.

“The Snake River is a key tributary of the St. Croix River, and as a result it is important to the health of the Upper Mississippi River,” said Doug Shaw, the Conservancy’s assistant director.  “The Snake is in very good natural condition and we need to keep it that way for wildlife, clean water, outdoor recreation and our economy.”

The DNR thanks the Aanestaad family for their willingness to work with the department, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council for its support in using Outdoor Heritage Funds for the acquisition, and TNC for stepping in with funding through the RIM program.

“It was a real team effort,” said Schuller.

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